Many California residents have interest overseas and the international laws regarding divorce often make the process more difficult for spouses who are currently living in separate countries. However, if you are in agreement with your spouse on all the divorce matters, it's not a complicated process.
You might have met your spouse in another county and got married while living overseas, but now are back home in the United States.
Often, when a relationship ends and spouses separate, they will come back to their home country.
This frequently leads to confusion on how they can file for a divorce when their spouse lives in another country and their marriage occurred outside the United States.
The international divorce process can be complex and include many crucial matters, such as:
The first step is to establish jurisdiction on where the divorce will take place.
In California, you could file for divorce in the county whether either spouse lives. This is known as the “jurisdiction” and in a divorce, it's can be rather flexible.
In order to give readers a better understanding on international divorces in California, our Los Angeles family law lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
Can I File for a Divorce in the California County Court Where I Live?
If you are a spouse who lives in California, but you spouse lives in another country, you could file for a divorce in the county family court where you live.
However, you must first meet the residency requirement of:
- Living in California for at least 6 months, and
- Live in the county where you are filing for a divorce for at least 3 months.
It doesn't matter where your spouse is living, but you could possibly face some issues with officially serving them with divorce papers.
Speak to an experienced California family law attorney for information on how to serve your spouse with divorce papers when they live in another country.
Of course, if you and your spouse are in agreement over all the divorce related issues, then serving them with papers won't become a problem.
Typically, filing and obtaining a divorce decree won't become a major issue because your spouse lives in another country, but there are a few exceptions.
How Can I File for an International Divorce?
As stated, if you are residing in California, you can for a divorce in a county court, even if your spouse lives in another country.
You might be expected to serve them with papers notifying them of the divorce, but you are under the jurisdiction of California family laws and your divorce proceedings will occur here.
As discussed, it often proves to be more difficult to provide proper notification as you will need to use a third-party to deliver the divorce petition.
If your spouse decides to file for a divorce in another country, then the process gets significantly more complicated.
For example, you might be expected to fulfill the requirements of the foreign court for the divorce to proceed, but also comply with California family laws for your divorce to be valid.
If the international court provides documentation of the divorce also mandates that one spouse serve the other with proper notice, then it will most likely be recognized in the state of California.
You will still want to have a divorce lawyer in your corner to make sure that property is divided fairly, child custody and visitation rights upheld, and spousal support and child support issues are properly resolved.
Why are International Divorces More Complicated?
Divorce laws will vary by each country, which means the requirements to get a divorce in the state of California will be different than Germany.
For example, European countries have far fewer rules about financial disclosures in a divorce, while California wants you to provide full information in order to equally divide property.
Also, there are some countries that don't require notification of getting a divorce.
There are a few major issues that make an international divorce more complicated:
- Child custody arrangement;
- Financial issues.
If you are getting an international divorce and there are children involved, then the process can get more complex. International child custody orders, parenting plans, and timesharing arrangements are often more difficult.
You should consult with a family law attorney in California who has experience international child custody issue to ensure you actions are compliance with the best interest of the child standard.
Your finances will also make an international divorce more complex because if you spouse lives in another country, they will have overseas accounts and other assets.
Again, you will need a skilled California divorce lawyer to ensure all these accounts are property documented and equally divided.
Can My International Divorce Be Completed Online?
Today, with the common use of email, text messages, phone and various video conferences, most of your international divorce can probably be completed through electronic communication.
Whether or not you will need to make personal office visits with your divorce lawyer or make court appearances in a California family law court will depend on different factors.
If you live overseas and unable to have personal face-to-face meetings with a California divorce attorney, then seek a law firm that offers phone consultations and video conferences to get started on your case.
As stated, there are some unique concerns with international divorces, but retaining a family law lawyer with experience handing overseas divorces can ensure a smoother process to end the marriage.
Our California Certified Family Law Specialist have experience with international divorces online from our office in Los Angeles County.
We need to review your divorce case in order to determine whether it can be completed online though electronic communication.
Help for Spouses Seeking an International Divorce
Our skilled legal team in Los Angeles can help you obtain an international divorce regardless of what country your spouse is living in.
Your best option to file for an international divorce is to contact our family law attorneys to discuss the details of your situation.
We will explain the requirements under California law and available options if you were married overseas, or one spouse is currently living in the United States.
If you and your spouse remain on friendly terms, then speak with them about how you want to file for a divorce before moving to another country.
After you have a tentative plan, call us to review all available options and to evaluate property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys located in the San Fernando Valley area of LA County at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436.
Contact our office for a free case consultation at (818) 528-3471.